Keith Gore, Lawyer Keith Gore, Lawyer
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Tricking a breathalyzer: The reality versus fiction

For some people, the allure of going out and drinking is stronger than staying sober. Some may even believe that they can trick the breathalyzer if they're pulled over. The reality is that it is not as easy as it may appear.

A breathalyzer identifies when a person has alcohol in his or her blood by taking a sample of the individual's breath. That sample then registers a percentage of alcohol as the person blows out. The results aren't always accurate and can be manipulated in some cases, but not in all the ways that myths suggest.

1. Breathalyzers are tricked by copper pennies

It's not clear where this urban myth came from, but a breathalyzer certainly will not go wrong because you have a penny in your mouth. Other things that won't affect the test include snake oil, garlic, herbal mixtures or other currencies.

2. Breath mints or mouthwash can lower your blood alcohol concentration reading and mask the smell of alcohol

This is actually very far from the truth. Mouthwash has the potential to throw off the breathalyzer's test results, but not to the negative. Instead, mouthwashes containing alcohol could inflate the reading, getting you a DUI when you aren't over the limit. It's typically encouraged to state if you have recently used mouthwash, since it could throw off the results.

3. Cops can use only breathalyzer test results against you in court

While a breath test does give important information to the police, it's only one of several steps they typically take to prove that you're intoxicated. You may be asked to complete roadside sobriety tests as well. For instance, if an officer asks you to walk in a straight line and you fall over, he or she may add this to the evidence of your intoxication. Of course, there are extenuating circumstances where people may fail both tests and be found innocent, like if they are struggling with a medical condition or the breathalyzer was broken.

Breathalyzer tests aren't 100 percent accurate, but they are reliable in most cases. If you're accused of a DUI, it's still worth looking into how the test was performed and how you did on the field sobriety tests. Breathalyzer tests are only one piece of evidence, so other evidence could help prevent or encourage a conviction. To avoid any of this trouble, it is simply better to plan for a designated driver after a night out on the town.

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